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Somewhere between Manga and Anime, Manga 2.5 is following in the footsteps of Marvel and others, producing Motion Comics of popular Manga. They start by getting a contract to produce a popular Manga, then scan the whole thing in. They remove the dialog balloons and replace them with Japanese voice actors and English subtitles. Since they are embedding audio they also add sound effects as appropriate. The panels or frames are broken apart and colored, and limited animation in the style known as Motion Comics are added. The end result is something that you watch happen rather than read, for a lot less money then it takes to create a real animation or anime.

It is an interesting art form, and I do like the stuff produced by Marvel a lot. So far all I have seen of this group are a few trailers, but it has the potential to be quite good. If you were interested in trying your hand at this kind of thing, Smith Micro has an excellent software suite for a reasonable price with Motion Artist. It has a bit of a learning curve, but the software lets you be creative while automating a lot of the tasks; for instance you can set up the key frames and it automatically generates all the tween frames that get you from one key frame to the next. Trust me when I say having to animate each and every frame yourself gets tedious real fast, whether at 24 frames/second (fps) for film or 29 fps for TV, whereas you might have 4 to 6 key frames per second. Another very useful function is having the mouth layers pre-built for speech with a module that automates building the phonem map out of your imported MP3 file. Lip sync is about the hardest kind of animation to do, from my perspective, all that fiddly stuff should really be done by the computer anyways.